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viking Loudoun Valley High School . Purcellville, VA . Issue I . September 2013

YOU AND YOUR MUSIC Summer is a stage for many music-related activities, including concerts that help to define some students’ sense of self.



Student participation in the historic Loudoun 4H Fair involves hard work and added benefits.

Absolute PERFECTION Contrary to popular belief, body insecurity afflicts teen boys as much as it does teen



Top/The football team rejoices after a victory over James Wood. (Photo/Ainsley Sierzega) Cover/Junior Dani Bunce and Woodgrove junior Maddy de Venoge attend a summer concert. (Photo/ courtesy of Dani Bunce)

Newsmagazine Staff 2013-2014

Editor-in-Chief Charles Lyons

Managing Editors Brianna Jennings Emma Rodriguez

Business Manager Courtney Morgan

Copy Editor Leila Francis

Social Media Editor Elizabeth Sikora

Writers, Photographers, Business and Promotional Staff Carina Bucci, Jennifer Colantonio, Claire Deaver, Sacha Gragg, McKenna Holtz, Maddie Rice, Ainsley Sierzega

Online Editors Sami Morency Henry Webster

Adviser Paige Cox | Twitter: @lvhsviking | Instagram: lvhsviking

Letter from the


Dear Vikings, The Viking is a completely student-run and student-funded newsmagazine, meaning that our staff is responsible for everything you see printed, unless otherwise credited. Our adviser, Ms. Cox, guides us through the process, but ultimately everything is carried out by The Viking staff. If there is something you want us to cover, let us know! Room 135, the publications room, is always open for you to come give us suggestions. Our goal is to be able to inspire conversation amongst our student body; knowing what you all are interested in reading will help us reach this goal.

While we want to entertain our readers, we also are very serious about our work. We do not tamper with interviews; the words you give us during an interview are what you will see printed unless you tell us otherwise. Our interviews are backed up via audio files, and we promise to never intentionally place your quotes out of context. If you find that we printed something incorrectly or feel that we misrepresented you in any way, please feel free to let us know so that we can print an apology. Like we said, we work to serve you all,

our student body, and do not want to misrepresent you. Make sure to look for us throughout the year—we will be distributing seven more issues before the school year ends. In the meantime, support us through the publications’ Coffee Shop every Friday morning in the Mixing Bowl. Also, if you are interested in submitting advertisements or shoutouts to friends or clubs, feel free to visit Room 135. Thanks! Charles Lyons Editor-in-Chief

CONTENTS September 2013

1 Loudoun Legacy The Loudoun County 4-H Fair celebrated its 78th year this summer, giving students an opportunity to showcase their agricultural prowess.


Taking a Stand

Loudoun County teens travel each summer with St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church to aid poverty-stricken areas.

5 You and Your Music For many teens, the music they listen to is a bold expression of themselves and concerts are havens of self-discovery.

7 Absolute Perfection Often overlooked, males struggle with body image issues just as much as females. Media, peers and sports all create pressure to achieve the “perfect body.�

9 Editorial: No Tolerance No Help Students face harsh punishment for any offense regarding drugs, alcohol and weapons with no second chances.

At the Varsity volleyball tournament, junior Juli Dryden spikes the ball in game against Flint Hill. Photo/ Sami Morency

Loudoun Legacy The Loudoun County 4-H Fair celebrated its 78th year this summer, giving students an opportunity to showcase their agricultural prowess. By Emma Rodriguez People put a lot of thought into their diet, measuring fat and calculating calories with mechanic indifference. But one typically overlooked aspect in regards to food is also one of the most important: where does it come from? Since 1935, the Loudoun County Fair has provided an opportunity to answer this question and given teenagers with an interest in agriculture a chance to showcase their abilities and hard work. “It helps bring people from the cities out to see the animals,” junior Logan Potts said. “Ninety-eight percent of people in America don’t live on a farm, and this is the place where they can come meet the people who live on it and see the animals.”

“Ninety-eight percent of people in America don’t live on a farm, and this is the place where they can come meet the people who live on it and see the animals.” - Logan Potts Guests travel from the lively midway and entertaining events like the annual pig scramble, a chance to catch a greased piglet, towards the back of the fair, where they’re encouraged to introduce themselves to the horses, sheep and cows. Most stalls are decorated with posters describing the animals name, age and favorite pastimes; several horses advertise their favorite snacks, including mints and gummies. “It’s so rewarding because some of these kids have never seen a horse


before in their life,” senior Bernadette Boland said. “It’s just an everyday thing to me.” The first 4-H participant in her family, Boland shows horses and, previously, sheep. “My sister and I are the first people in our family to do 4-H,” Boland said, “but I know a lot of these families; they go back generations and generations.” Potts comes from one of these families; living on the only dairy cattle farm in the county, he’s participated in 4-H since he was nine. “I’ve lived on a farm my whole life; my brothers and sisters did [4-H], my mom’s a leader,” Potts said. “I really enjoy doing it.” While Boland and other horse aficionados must work with their horses all year, training and exercising them, Potts begins the fair preparations with his dairy cows about a month before opening day. Typically during the summer months, high school students snooze late into the morning, but the cows must be put out to graze by 9 a.m., washed spotless with soapy water and hoses and clipped to look their best for the shows. Potts, approaching the work with relaxed provision, radiates experience and belonging. Sophomore Dexter Howard also begins work about a month before the fair; Howard, who shows chickens, must wash the raucous birds by dunking them in a tub of water mixed with dish soap, dunking them in a tub of clean water, and drying them with a towel before cleaning their wire cages. Chickens, for Howard, were a prerequisite for 4-H; after hearing about it from a friend, he decided he wanted to try it out, and has since won the Asiatic class. Despite all the careful training and groundwork, some things fall out of the showmen’s control. Potts says the most stressful aspect of the shows is “whether or not the animals are going to act well or not, behave or go crazy.” While most of the shows go off without a hitch, the fair members are obviously adjusted to a little “crazy” behavior from the animals. One of the sheep

Left/At the 4-H auction, junior Rachel Leigh shows a pig in the main barn. Leigh joined the fair this year, participating in Swine and Poulty clubs. Top right/The ferris wheel highlights the center of the midway. The ride attracted fairgoers of all ages, creating new memories while unearthing nostalgia. Bottom right/Waiting to be shown at auction, dairy cows lounge in their shelter. The cows were principally from the Potts’ farm.

fled the scene mid-washing; the sheep’s owner and several bystanders were shouting “Loose sheep!” like a well-worn code, widening their stance like a football player to dive for the escape artist. Another source of tension for 4-H competitors is the paperwork. “I think the worst part about it is doing the project books at the end of the year,” Boland said, following closely with a sheepish confession. “You’re supposed to do it ... throughout the whole year, but that ... rarely ever happens.” The paperwork increases with added animals, but so does the reward. The fair allows 4-H members to auction one animal for each variety they show; if you do cows, you can only auction off one animal, but if you do cows and sheep, you can auction off one of each, increasing your profits. The auction itself is organized chaos; rattling off names and numbers in a barely distinguishable barrage, the auctioneer balances trying to get the highest number with haste. The money from the auctions goes back to the teens, and they can spend it however they want. Some teenagers, like Boland, reinvest the money in their animals; others put it towards college. Saving money from the auctions is not the only college benefit. 4-H offers scholarships to participants, and the activity itself is a valuable extracurricular for college applications. While many teens scramble to fill in blanks with additional courses and summer programs, agricultural students dedicate their time to training their animals, their applications well in hand. “It looks really good on college résumés because it shows that you can manage your time easily,” Boland said. “Timing is so important with animals.” To many teenagers, 4-H provides a social outlet and network of students with similar interests, turning a primarily solitary activity into an opportunity to form lifelong friendships. “All my best friends are in 4-H, I don’t know what I would do without them,” Boland gushed “It’s like a whole other family.”

Howard adds that with every new club you join, you meet new people. While participating in 4-H has many benefits, it takes a lot of work, from working with the animals to working at the fair. Club members are responsible for the upkeep of the fair, generally a dirty job; clubs take turns emptying the reeking garbage cans in the hot sun and setting up the barns, replacing soiled sawdust with heavy bales of hay. “I don’t think people realize how much work is put into it, especially the afterhours types of things,” Boland said. “It doesn’t just happen, your animals don’t just appear here looking the way they do. It takes time and effort and money.” But the response from both participants and public is unanimous: It’s worth it. Although the fair has changed in nearly eight decades, showing more small animals as opposed to larger more expensive animals like horses and dairy cows, its effect has remained constant. Not only does the fair help educate and entertain the community, it provides an outlet for teenagers to pursue their agricultural interests and endows them with new skills. “It really teaches the kids in 4-H money management, time management,” Boland said, “so many life skills that people just working at a clothing store wouldn’t get.” Photos/Sami Morency Layout/Emma Rodriguez




Taking a Stand BY SACHA GRAGG AND BRIANNA JENNINGS This summer, a multitude of 400 kids from all across the nation gathered at one school during the week of June 23-29, meeting up with many Valley students heading, with Purcellville’s St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church, to Lexington, N.C. for Work Camp. For one week in the summer, rising freshmen to graduating seniors sign up to serve with St. Francis De Sales in some of the poorest areas in the nation at a program called Work Camp. Work Camp is a nondenominational Christian program, similar to an in-country mission trip, that’s been an up-and-coming tradition the kids in western Loudoun love to participate in. This past year St. Francis de Sales headed off to Lexington, N.C. with vans and a bus full of kids eager

to serve. “The bus ride is extremely long and while most people choose to sleep, because we had to arrive at 5:15 a.m. at the church, some people like to mess around and talk on the bus,“ junior Kayla Kilfeather said. “It’s really exciting when we arrive though. Everyone unpacks and races to get the best rooms.” “You get there on the first day and it is just like, what is going on?” sophomore Abby Watts said. Each camp day starts out with up to 30 sleeping kids in a classroom waking up to a voice saying, “Wakey wakey, Work Campers.” “After you hear ‘wakey wakey’ they put on one of the most annoying songs ever created, something like Veggie Tales or Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday,’ at about 7 in the morning,” Kilfeather said. After waking up and


having a quick breakfast, everyone meets in the gym, where students have a small devotional and get their mission for the day. After the morning program, each group goes to its individual resident’s home to help. It is an unfamiliar occurrence for kids from the richest county in the country to see houses without running water and plumbing. “Helping people is always a joy, and coming from Loudoun County, the richest county in the nation, it’s hard to imagine that some people have it so much worse than us,” junior Erin Kaseman said. For many people going to Work Camp, the more poverty in an area, the better of an experience it is for them. “The residents are some of the most down-to-earth people and think they are so blessed to have these kids come from all over the nation to help,” Kaseman said. “It’s great to see the joy we bring them.”

At Work Camp, everyone is broken into groups of six, composed of five students and an adult leader. These groups receive an assignment to certain residents’ homes, where the students travel to each day in order to aid the residents there. Throughout the week a crew becomes almost like a family. “You bond with your crew from the first meeting where you do icebreakers,” Kaseman said. “As the week goes on you guys talk a lot more at lunch and, I mean, you spend six hours a day with them so you have to like some of the people. By the end of the week you get pretty close with your crew, I still talk to some of them to this day.” Work Camp at St. Francis originated with two kids who went to the Dominican Republic. The two kids came back, loving the trip so much that they decided to go back the next year with 10 more kids. The idea

Left/Junior Kayla Kilfeather paints a fence at St. Francis’s Workcamp in Lexington, North Carolina. This is Kilfeather’s second year going to Work Camp. “That [week] was basically my favorite week of the whole summer,” Kilfeather said. Middle/Danielle Yoxthimer and a crew member finish a deck for resident in Lexington, North Carolina. Top/The before and after pictures of a house that crews worked on throughout the week.

Loudoun County teens travel each summer with Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church to aid poverty-stricken areas. continued to grow as more and more people wanted to come, eventually leading to St. Francis organizing Work Camp each summer. “The most we ever took was 180 people,” Jane Treado, the youth leader for St. Francis said. Work Camp has traveled to West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Virginia. One year, Work Camp even traveled to

the people they meet there. “So much goes on at Work Camp that changes your life,” junior Emily Anderson said. Work Camp leaves a lifetime impact on the people that went. “We have had a lot of kids come home saying it was the best week of their summer,” Treado said. Oftentimes kids that went to Work Camp go on to college and participate in more mission trips.

“So much goes on at Work Camp that changes your life.” - Emily Anderson

a Native American island in Canada outside of Detroit. No matter where they go, students cannot come back from Work Camp without some amazing stories, whether they are from their worksite or

Work Camp also brings kids from all over the country to one place, for one main purpose. Because of this many new and close friendships are formed. “You meet so many amazing people who live in different states,

and it’s so much fun to get to know people,” Anderson said. To Watts, who went to Work Camp for the first time with St. Francis this past summer, her experiences were very surprising. During Work Camp, Thursday night of Evening Program is devoted to an activity dubbed “Cry Night,” where most people end up shedding tears. To Watts, who, as a Catholic, goes to Confession, it was a new experience. “That was like [the Protestant’s] Confession,” Watts said. “They didn’t have to say anything, just think about it.” “Cry Night is a really moving experience for everyone in the room,” Kilfeather said. The MC talks about a really intense, deep topic that really makes the crowd question themselves and their beliefs. People tend to take the time to vent to others in the room about their problems, thoughts or feelings whether it be an adult, youth


leader, long-time friend or new friend they just met. “I usually sit with a group of friends, holding hands, and we let everything out,” Anderson said. “The environment is perfect; there are people everywhere willing to talk with you and give you hugs, support, whatever you need. It’s a night where you don’t feel judged.” There are many different aspects of Work Camp, an experience that many people walk away from changed. For this reason, students return to Work Camp year after year, even those who have long since graduated high school. It raises a question: why is Work Camp so great? Treado said, “[Work Camp is] a little glimpse of what Heaven might be.” Photos/courtesy of Bob Oh Layout/Sami Morency





Your Music

Students view music as more than entertainment and concerts as greater than loud noises and bright lights. For many teens, the music they listen to is a bold expression of themselves and concerts are havens of self-discovery. BY CHARLES LYONS Summer break offers students a necessary reprieve from the dayto-day toil of their lives, providing a freeing release in which they can be themselves, establish relationships and cultivate an identity in a less restrictive atmosphere. The increasingly popular summer concerts and music festivals, then, can be seen as the ideal teenage summer activity. Their appeal lies in the immersive nature of their environment and the emotionally transformative quality of the music being played, which engages the senses as well as the body in dancing, a key aspect of the shows, in a rigorous way. "Everyone is so happy and it just helps you to forget about reality because all you're thinking about is the music and the people you're with and how much of a good time you're having. It's a beautiful experience," junior Dani Bunce said, an avid concert-goer. This summer alone,

Bunce has attended the popular Sweetlife festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, WMZQ Fest, a staple for country music fans, and a Pretty Lights/Gramatik concert, which showcased two artists in the burgeoning EDM, or electronic dance music, genre. The diversity of environments, experiences and other people that flock to the performances is a draw for students. Junior Jake Lutman, who has attended countless shows and festivals this summer, sees the concerts as a venue to unite diverse types of people. "Music brings people together; it's everyone's common ground. It's like a universal language, everybody understands it," Lutman said. Bunce is also receptive to the unifying power of music, adding, "I think music has a power to bond people in a way that other forms of entertainment do not. It unifies people as one no matter what race or


gender." Concert-goers enjoy breaking free from the self-contained habitat of Loudoun County and surrounding themselves with new and interesting types of people who you might not find in our local Harris Teeter shopping center. "I love meeting new people [at concerts] and learning about all the different lifestyles that people have that attend live music concerts on a regular basis," Bunce said. Junior Riley Krause agrees, seeing the concerts less as amalgamations of diverse sets of people, but as niche attractions that are emblematic of specific subcultures. "A certain type of music attracts a certain type of people, and it’s always cool to get to meet all different types of people and enjoy the same music," Krause said, whose love of live music and experiencing a variety of people and atmospheres drew her

all the way to Chicago this summer for the Lollapalooza music festival. The event was appealing, Krause explained, not only for the wealth of artists who played there, but because she got to visit a city thousands of miles away that she otherwise would not have thought to visit. Students also view attending concerts and listening to music in general as a way to stay connected with their friends and family and even honor familial tradition. To these students, music is a primary force of connection in their lives, creating inseparable bonds with people who like to bask in the same sounds, melodies and harmonies that they do, collecting new memories as well as reminding them of people and experiences past. A distinctively southern rock artist plays a big role in the life of senior Tara Crim and her family. "Music plays an important part in my relationship with my father," Crim

Far left/Grand gestures of selfexpression are commonplace at music festivals such as Floyd Fest. The Virginia festival, which ran July 25-28, champions roots and progressive modes of music. Top/Good vibes abound as junior Jake Lutman kicks back at local music and arts festival Pasture Palooza.The fest ran June 28-29 in Berryville, and invited attendants to camp out alongside the performances. Bottom/A sensory overload of lights, sound and the crowd’s enthusiasm defines this band’s late night set at Floyd Fest. Students cite the close-knit, familial atmosphere of the audience as a primary draw for concert-going.

Left/Graduate Tori Stewart (far left) and seniors Tara Crim (center left) and Elizabeth Schray (center right) at Mad Decent Block Party. Center/Junior Riley Krause (left) at Chicago’s Lollapalooza Music Festival. Right/Senior Tara Crim (right) and family at a Kid Rock concert.

said. "He passed away four years ago, and I've always enjoyed listening to songs or artists that he enjoyed. For example, Kid Rock was his favorite artist and is a big hit with my whole family. My mother, brother and I try to attend a Kid Rock concert each summer and we wear shirts in honor of my dad." Many students find music and concert-going to be an integral piece in the fabric of their relationships and friendships, sometimes uniting them all the more in the face of being misunderstood because of their possibly offbeat or alternative cultural interests. "My friends and I definitely bond over our love for music and live music and we are constantly sharing new music we've found with each other. Going to concerts together really bonds us together; most people don't understand the appeal which just helps us to grow that much closer in our mutual love for it," Bunce said.

While Lutman does frequently experience music communally at concerts or in jam sessions with his brother and father, he also has a treasured relationship with it individually. "Music is the biggest part of my life I’d have to say; I love it. It can have a message or it can start a movement or even a revolution. If I'm not playing music, I'm listening to it while I'm doing my day-to-day activities," Lutman said. In addition to the actual music being performed, concert-goers cite the experience and feel of the shows as being a central part of their unique offering. The shows are quite literally festivals of music—their atmosphere, no matter the genre or subculture on display, is a celebratory one. The performers, fans, decorations and venue cast a decidedly communal, loving vibe over the proceedings that fans find infectious, binding them together inseparably.

"There's nothing else like live music: the sound, the feeling it brings, and all the dancing…when you are there in the moment it's a great feeling to see everyone smiling and having a good time. Everyone feels sort of like a second family," Lutman said. Summer concerts provide more than an afternoon diversion to fill students' free time. By all accounts, they act as a place where a dominating sense of community and togetherness highlights the young men and women as emerging adults. "I enjoy getting lawn tickets [at shows] because you are just stuck in the middle of a huge group of people," Crim said. "My favorite part is when the performer stops singing and the band stops playing and all you hear is the crowd singing the lyrics together." photos/courtesy of Jake Lutman, Tara Crim, Riley Krause layout/Charles Lyons


PLUR (noun):

A philosophical guideline for concert- and festival-goers.


PLUR devotees promote nonviolence and a peaceful attitude.


Acts and gestures of affection are encouraged.


People are viewed as part of a whole rather than divided or separated.


No person should be slighted or thought of as lesser than, all must be treated with dignity.




Often overlooked, males struggle with body image issues just as much as females. Media, peers and sports all create pressure to achieve the “perfect body.” Almost every little girl plays with Barbie as a child, fascinated by her beauty. However, if Barbie existed as a human she would weigh less than 110 pounds with a BMI of 16.24, fitting the criteria for anorexia. Similarly, the popular G.I. action figure, an extremely muscular, defined figure, mimics impossible body proportions for any man to realistically achieve. Society tends to link girls with stressing over looks and worrying about having a perfect body. However, boys also fall prey to the images of ideal bodies, striving to “man up” and have the perfect male physique. Body image refers to how a person feels about their body. Body image issues are increasingly significant among young males, as they feel pressure to act like the stereotypical man – strong, tall, fit and muscular. The Psychology Today Body Image Survey

of 4,000 men and women asked participants about weight and attitudes towards their physiques and specific body parts; the survey done showed that 41% of boys from the ages of 13-19 are overall dissatisfied with their bodies. Teenage boys do many things to achieve the “perfect” body such as lift weights, workout, diet and take performance-enhancing drugs and supplements. “High school boys lift to better their athletics, improve their self image and prevent injury,” P.E. teacher Jamie Phillips said. A recent article by the Washington Post discussed the injuries that the school football team may face now as a small school in a lower division with a schedule filled with far larger schools. Because of the concern from parents and players about possible harm, the team dedicates themselves even more to lifting and doing things to prevent any


injuries possible, while still trying to keep up their ideal body appearance. “I take a protein powder supplement and lift weights for two hours, three times a week,” junior and football player Andy Garcia said. “I also eat a lot

“We are all human so we are going to do whatever we have to do to fit in to society.” -Garrett Jenkins

of calories to stay big and strong in order to prevent injuries and keep my body in shape.” Senior and football player Brandon Grayson pushes himself in the weight room to enhance his body’s physical abilities and appearance. “I lift weights and work out two to three


times a week,” Grayson said. “The work outs and weightlifting help me, but when I don’t have a great day in the weight room I feel dissatisfaction with my body.” Phillips understands Grayson’s problem. “I feel boys are dissatisfied with their bodies. They think they have to work harder in the weight room and need more dedication to nutrition.” Another study done by Psychology Today found that dissatisfaction presents itself in men just as much as women. Women mostly showed displeasure over their weight because of how heavy they thought they were while the men divided evenly between two areas. One group of men felt they were overweight. The other group of men thought they were underweight. This study suggests that men have two pressures, the pressure to be lean and the pressure to build large muscles. Proving that point, a random survey of 71 male students in the 2012-2013 school year showed that in the high school, 67% of males would rather gain weight while 33% said they would want to lose weight. “Boys today think more now that their bodies could be tighter and more muscular,” Phillips said. “Also, they want more strength.” With more strength and muscle comes more weight, which shows the reasoning behind the some males’ strive to gain weight while some want to lose weight and look lean. Where does this growing self-consciousness about body image come from though? A big factor behind the huge push for this perfect male body comes from the media, in more than one form. Similar to the pressure girls get from the media, the pressure media and society put on young men to have a narrow waist and large shoulders, giving the body a V-shaped torso, stresses out young males. This developmental period adolescents experience not only changes their physical appearance, but also impacts their mental processes. Teens begin to subject themselves to painful scrutiny. These changes often make teenagers feel awkward and self-conscious about their bodies. “Guys are just as prone to scrutiny as girls, particularly because of media influence. I just

Real Life

G.I. Joe Junior Muka Nyamuhindu lifts weights during his weightlifting class. Students that in enroll try to increase their muscular strength in the weightlifting room.

think that some girls take it more personally than some guys do,” sophomore Garrett Jenkins said. “However, we are all human so we are going to do whatever we have to do to fit in to society.” In the random student survey, 51% of male students said that professional athletes influence their idea of what a good body is and what they want to look like. A much smaller percent said that actors (3%), magazines (3%), music industry (3%) and coaches (5%) influence their body image. Completely unrelated to media influence however, the remaining 35% reported that other factors like parents, girls and peers influence their body image and what they want to look like for them or because of them. “I look to professional athletes and media for what I want in my body, but a lot has to do with what girls would want,” Jenkins said. Boys and girls both contemplate what is wrong with their bodies and what they could change, especially at the adolescent stages of life. High school puts pressure on both males and females to look like everyone else or to transform into a professional athlete’s body. “Everyone in high school is so judgmental,” Garcia said. “They care about what everyone thinks about them, which causes them to want to change their body for everyone else.” photos/Sacha Gragg layout/Brianna Jennings Senior John Driscoll lifts weights while fellow weightlifting student spots him in their fifth block class.

Just like Barbie, the iconic G.I. Joe doll flaunts unrealistic and unhealthy proportions for any male to achieve. G.I. Joe, Batman, and other action figures with bulging muscles adds stress for males to bulk up and have bodies that are nearly impossible to build.

OUT OF PROPORTION If G.I. Joe were real, his biceps would be almost as big as his waist, bigger than most competitive body builders.







Most athletic men of the same height have biceps that are

Also, his chest is an unbelievable

This is 15 inches larger than the average man’s chest, which is about 40 inches.





NO tolerance no help Students face harsh punishment for any offense regarding drugs, alcohol and weapons with no second chances. EDITORIAL BY HENRY WEBSTER A string of high school suicides resulting from drug-related expulsions in Fairfax County have led many Fairfax officials to question their zero tolerance policy, and Loudoun County should follow suit. Zero tolerance leads to detrimental emotional tolls on students with otherwise stellar records and doesn’t serve to better the lives of students. The policy was intended to provide equality, punishing students evenly regardless of background, but many students in the upper tiers of social hierarchy experience limited punishment. Schools with identical policies and similar characteristics have been found to suspend and expel their students at vastly different rates, proving that whether someone is punished has less to do with zero tolerance and more to do with the approach of individual faculty, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center. So while its goal was equality, it actually lengthens the gap by offering only two options: no punishment or expulsion. Additionally, the zero tolerance approach takes judgment out of the equation, eliminating proportionate punishments. Other approaches, such as mandated counseling, have proven more effective, helping students solve their problems rather than adding onto them.

If a student is expelled for drug use, they will have an extremely limited shot at attending college or even finishing their high school degree, and their career will suffer; high school drop outs are twice as likely as college students to be unemployed, according to NPR (National Public Radio). If a student in the exact same situation receives an opportunity such as counseling or rehabilitation, then they can still finish high school and go to college, leaving their future intact or improved. It’s the difference between setting a student back on track and derailing their future. The policy also forces a downward spiral on students, cutting off resources for those who can’t seek help for fear of punishment. Students are told to entrust adults with their problems, but when adults are trained to punish blindly, students have no alternatives to expulsion under the zero tolerance policy. It is an artificially limiting environment: if you make a wrong decision, even once, there is no way to turn back. It creates an atmosphere devoid of second chances. This idea is hopeless and bleak, resulting in nearly one million high school dropouts each year, according to NPR. Students’ futures are being decimated by mistakes that their parents probably made in their youth.




Where zero tolerance aimed to create equality, it actually removed ­­sound judgment, doling out identical punishments to students with much different crimes. There is no distinction between a constant drug user and an occasional one. Not only is this unfair, it can dangerously escalate behavior, turning a common teenage mistake into a life changing one: if a student is going to be punished the same way regardless, then what’s the point of restraint? Loudoun County is not immune to these fallacies. In the 2010-2011 school year, 116 long-term suspensions and expulsions took place in Loudoun County’s high schools and middle schools, including five at Loudoun Valley. Administrators hold personal opinions on the policy. While the zero tolerance policy states that a student should be expelled for a drug offense, Vice Principal Sam Gross believes that certain things should be taken in to consideration including disciplinary and academic history, attendance and the actual circumstance. Gross also said that students shouldn’t just be “kicked to the curb.” He feels that the school has friendly, qualified resources to help a student get on the right path. Safety is also the school system’s number one priority, according

to Gross. Trend data is used to come up with the most effective disciplinary action for administrations to use for particular offenses. “Safety is our utmost priority,” Gross said. “And it is also important to administer and help a student to change their bad behavior for the best interest of the individual.” Moreover, some school administrations notice how harsh the discipline can be, forcing them to make certain exceptions for situations. This way of not having bounded guidelines for punishment results in some students being treated unfairly. Zero tolerance is an exaggerated approach to the inevitable mistakes in teenagers’ lives. For some it has been the downfall of a high school career, and in turn, an adult one. It is hurting youth, rather than trying to put them on a right path. The goal of the school system is to churn out students ready for successful futures, and zero tolerance is not the means for this end. Student lives are being ruined and lost to hopeless futures as the result of a single mistake; the merciless policy responsible has no place in Loudoun County Schools. Photo/Ainsley Sierzega Layout/Henry Webster




Coffee Shop Provided by the newspaper every two weeks on Friday in the mixing bowl! From 8 to 8:50 a.m. Everything’s a dollar! 11 THEVIKINGNEWS.COM SEPTEMBER 2013




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1. Juniors Andy Garcia and Muka Nyamuhindu cheer on their teammates at the September 6 James Wood football game. The boys went on to achieve their first victory of the season 17-0. 2. Junior John Bilderback plays the trumpet during Viking Fest on August 23. Viking Fest has been a part of Valley’s tradition in welcoming upcoming freshmen and returning students. 3. Senior Brandon Grayson rehydrates off the field during the football game against James Wood. He takes a break from his numerous plays as running back and linebacker. 4. The Jungle cheers on the varsity football team during its first home game of the season against Tuscarora September 13. 5. Senior Megan Thackaberry spikes the ball during a match against Flint Hill. 6. Senior Lance Strain plays the marimba during half time at the football game against Tuscarora. 7. Starting Quarterback junior Sully Warner charges down the field and resists being tackled by James Wood. Photos/Ainsley Sierzega, Sami Morency, Maddie Rice Layout/Elizabeth Sikora

The Viking / Issue 1 / Sep 2013  

The first issue of The Viking for the 2013-2014 school year.

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